The Shadows founder member dies


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May 24, 2005
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The Shadows founder member dies

Meehan (far right) played on records by Frank Ifield and Billy Fury

The original drummer with pop group The Shadows, who played on hits such as Apache, has died aged 62.

Tony Meehan was a founding member of the group, famous for backing Sir Cliff Richard and their own instrumental hits, from 1958 until 1961.

The Shadows guitarist Bruce Welch said Meehan died in hospital on Monday from head injuries sustained in a fall.
"It is so tragic," he said. "Tony was a hugely influential drummer and a very clever arranger."

Welch told the BBC News website that Meehan had "a unique style".

"Tony was only 15 when we first played together but he was already a really good drummer," he said.

'Major force'

"Drummers wanted to be like Tony Meehan as he played in a style that no-one had done before.

The Shadows backed Sir Cliff Richard on hits like Summer Holiday

"Apache was such an iconic record. It has been sampled a lot by hip hop groups."

Sir Cliff Richard said he was "shocked" to hear of Meehan's death.

"There's no doubt that he was a major force in creating The Shadows' distinctive sound," he said.

"His innovative drumming was the backbone of the band, and his aggressive yet sparse style was similar to Ringo Starr's five years later with The Beatles."

Sir Cliff added: "Affectionately known as The Baron because of his desire for the very best in all aspects of his life, Tony took his commitment to the band hugely seriously.

Film appearances

"It seems horrifying that a domestic accident should take his life at such a relatively young age, and my deepest sympathy goes out to his wife and family."

Meehan (right) saw bandmates at Shadows fan conventions

Sir Cliff last worked with Meehan when he drummed for the singer's Wembley stadium concerts in 1989.

The instrumental Apache was number one in 1960. Sir Cliff's number ones with the Shadows during Meehan's time in the band included Living Doll, Please Don't Tease, Travellin' Light and I Love You.

Meehan appeared alongside Sir Cliff and his bandmates in the film musical The Young Ones in 1961, as well as the movies Expresso Bongo in 1960 and Just for Fun in 1963.

When Meehan left the Shadows, he joined up with a fellow ex-band member, bassist Jet Harris, for the 1963 number one instrumental Diamonds. Meehan died at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, west London. He is survived by his wife and seven children.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/11/29 13:09:24 GMT